The last six months in my new position have been a world wind. Trying to learn all of my new duties while not having others suffer as I catch up has been a constant battle. On January 3rd, I began the next leg on my leadership journey. I had been a Principal in the district for eleven years and I thought I had a good grasp on what the new job entailed- maybe 75-80%. I wasn’t even close. It was probably closer to 25-30%. It seems that every moment of my time is consumed and I really haven’t had a lot of time to spend reflecting on the things that I’ve learned along the way.
Our district is closed every Friday during the summer and I’ve even used those days as catch up days. This Friday, a friend and mentor finally convinced me to slow down so we scheduled a golf day. When I woke up Friday morning it was pouring rain. So, I find myself with a little free time and I’m enjoying this moment to finally reflect. These are a few things that I’ve learned in the last six months.
1. Making a successful transition is about more than simply not failing. I had to figure out where I could get small wins as a springboard while avoiding landmines. With any new position, you don’t want to go in and make radical changes, but you do need to identify area where you can get small wins. These small wins begin to form a stair-step to bigger items to tackle.
2. It’s lonely near the top. As I’ve moved up the ladder, I’ve found that I can’t keep some of the friendships with my colleagues in the same way. My supervisory position now means that I have to make some unpleasant decision and I have to hold people accountable on district goals. As I find my friendly circle of former colleagues shrinking, I’ve sought out a few mentors who are able to help me stay balanced and encourage me along the way. These are people who have been in my shoes and have already walked this way. It’s been very helpful to have someone to talk to in this transition.
3. One size does not fit all in leadership. Too often people try to lead everyone the same and it just doesn’t work that way. Even though I work with adults, I still have to work with people who shut down, attempt to manipulate others, don’t get along with others, shirk responsibilities and people who just don’t follow through. Each person is an individual and my task is recognizing what makes them truly unique, how they operate and how they need to be lead to produce the best results for the district.
4. I don’t have to have the answer for every question- There are many changes going on internally and there are always new directives from the State Department. Often times these things cause a lot of anxiety for the people around me. I’m learning to communicate in an honest way with the staff. When I don’t know, I tell them, but when I do find out, I let them know. I have found this helpful not only for communication but it also helps build trust.
Leadership is all about influencing others-working with and relating to people. Every day is indeed a challenge but I love every day. I’m certain the next six months will be filled with more new challenges and new learning opportunities. I look forward to sharing them with you as I continue to grow.